JOHOR BARU: Former Johor housing and local government executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi, his son and a property consultant have been freed of all corruption and money-laundering charges.
The Sessions Court here ruled in favour of Abd Latif, 56; his son Ahmad Fauzan Hatim, 30; and Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raub, 49; who were all acquitted.
Judge Kamarudin Kamsun said the court found that the three did not go against the law in their activities that involved bumiputra lots five years ago.
“The defence had managed to raise a reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s case.
“The decision was made after going through all the evidence produced by both the prosecution and defence, such as exhibits and the written and oral statements,” he said when reading his judgment yesterday.
When the court adjourned, Abd Latif performed sujud syukur (prostration of gratitude) in the courtroom before meeting reporters.
Asked whether he has any plans for the next general election now that he is a free man, Abd Latif smiled and said: “Belum lagi (not yet)”.
The prosecution was led by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) legal and prosecution division deputy director I Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin while the defence was represented by Datuk Salehuddin Saidin.
Wan Shaharuddin said the prosecution would file an appeal against the decision.
Abd Latif and Amir Shariffuddin were each charged with 33 counts of corruption on June 14, 2017, following a land scandal that broke out in Johor about three months before that.
Abd Latif was also charged with 13 counts of money laundering, while Amir Shariffuddin and Ahmad Fauzan Hatim were each charged with four counts of money laundering. The amount involved in the cases amounted to RM35.7mil.
Among the charges, Abd Latif was accused of having abetted Amir Shariffuddin in converting bumiputra lots into non-bumiputra lots.
The former assemblyman was also accused of helping to reduce the quantum of payment that developers had to contribute towards the Johor Housing Fund for converting these lots.
On April 21, 2019, the Sessions Court, whose judge was also Kamarudin, acquitted the three men after the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case.
However, on Nov 7, 2021, the Johor Baru High Court ordered the three accused to enter their defence on the 37 counts of corruption and money laundering charges after finding the Sessions Court had erred in its decision to free and acquit them.